ALBANY, N.Y. — Editor's Note: The video above is from prior to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing his resignation.
As New York’s lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul has spent years on the road as the friendly face of the administration, visiting the far-flung coffee shops and factory floors of each of the state’s 62 counties for countless ribbon-cutting ceremonies and civic cheerleading events.
On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he was stepping down amid sexual harassment allegations and the threat of possible impeachment. His resignation takes effect in 14 days, at which point Hochul will be sworn in as the state's first woman governor.
A centrist Democrat from western New York, Hochul has worked deep in Cuomo’s shadow for her two terms in office, but this week joined the chorus of politicians denouncing the governor after an independent investigation concluded he had sexually harassed 11 women while in office.
“I believe these brave women,” Hochul wrote, calling Cuomo’s behavior “repulsive and unlawful” in a statement last week.
“Because lieutenant governors stand next in the line of succession, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this moment,” she wrote.
To many New Yorkers, Hochul is an unknown quantity, serving since 2015 in a job that is mostly ceremonial. A typical afternoon in late July had her announcing job training funding in Utica, discussing manufacturing in Rome and touring downtown Cazenovia with the small town’s mayor.
That has been nothing like the attention-demanding appearances of the determinedly high-profile Cuomo, who does most of his business in Albany and New York City and whose daily coronavirus briefings were national events at the height of the coronavirus.
Hochul has not been part of Cuomo’s inner circle of aides and allies. Her name wasn’t mentioned in the investigative report, released by Attorney General Letitia James, that detailed not only the harassment allegations against Cuomo but also efforts by his staff to discredit some of his accusers.
But at 62, Hochul is an experienced politician, a veteran of 11 campaigns that have taken her from town board to Congress, the latter representing a conservative western New York district after a surprising 2011 win in a special election to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House.
“Pragmatic would be a good way to describe her,” said Jacob Neiheisel, an associate political science professor at the University at Buffalo. “Someone who is pretty good at reading the tea leaves and coming around to where her constituency is.”
Sexual assault at colleges has been a major issue Hochul has worked to address. She spearheaded New York's 'Enough is Enough' campaign.
Hochul’s office declined an Associated Press interview request last week.
As lieutenant governor, Hochul has been chairing 10 regional economic development councils that have invested more than $6.1 billion across over 7,300 initiatives statewide. She also chairs New York's Workforce Investment Board, which has been trying to boost the number of skilled workers.
She's been active in trying to curb the heroin and opioid epidemic, as part of her role as co-chair of the Heroin and Opioid Abuse Task Force.
Hochul holds a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University, with a law degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
Click here to read Hochul's bio.